Despite low risk, paranoid parents scan Halloween candy

Sat Oct 29, 2011 11:36pm EDT
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By Matthew A. Ward

CHESAPEAKE, Va (Reuters) - Creating a colorful pile of wrappers, the medical center technician upends a basket of Skittles, Hershey bars, Twizzlers and other candy onto the bed of an x-ray machine.

Suzanne Mailler is demonstrating a procedure that will be repeated scores of times on Monday evening at the Chesapeake, Virginia medical clinic Patient First.

Across America, paranoid or justifiably cautious parents will bring in their children's trick-or-treat goodies for screening. Their fear is that the candy given to their children by strangers will be laced with glass, metal or other foreign objects.

Community relations manager Ian Slinkman said Patient First is offering the free service at 37 centers in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, providing "something fun for kids" and "a little bit of peace and mind" for parents.

Slinkman said clinics will also hand out free "safety blinkers," to make trick-or-treating children more visible, and "a little safety Halloween tip card for general Halloween safety."

Patient First has been x-raying candy for a decade, Slinkman said. "To my knowledge we haven't found anything that wasn't supposed to be there, and we view that as a good thing."

After the candy is x-rayed, showing up on the monitor like an arrangement of ghostly Lego blocks, children are given a DVD of the image to take home.

"They really enjoy seeing the inside of the candy; they can see the peanuts in the Snickers," according to Slinkman.   Continued...

<p>Local children and children of military families arrive in the snow to trick-or-treat at the North Portico of the White House in Washington October 29, 2011. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts</p>